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Mary, Queen Of Scots

Lived: 1542-1587
Reigned: 1542-1567


Mary, Queen Of Scots

Born: 7 December 1542
Place: Linlithgow Palace
Reigned: 1542-1567
Coronation: 9 September 1543
Father: James V of Scotland
Mother: Mary of Guise
Spouses:
1.Francis II of France
2.Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley
3.James Hepburn, Earl of Bothwell

Children: James VI and I
Religion: Roman Catholic
Died: 8 February 1587
Place: Fotheringhay Castle
Buried: Westminster Abbey
Successor: James VI



Mary, Queen Of Scots, was born in Linlithgow Palace, Scotland, on the 7 of December 1542. She was the only daughter of King James V of Scotland, and his French wife, Mary of Guise. She is said to have been christened in the Parish Church of St. Michael, near the Palace. Her father died only days after her birth, and the week old Mary became Queen of Scotland on the 14 of December 1542. She was crowned on the 9 of September the following year at Stirling.

Mary was related to the Tudors. Her grandmother was Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII's older sister. Margaret Tudor had married King James V of Scotland, and her son was Mary's father, James V. Henry VIII was thus her great Uncle, and she and Elizabeth were cousins.

Henry VIII wished to have baby Mary as a future bride for his infant son, Edward, and in 1544, his forces invaded Scotland in an attempt to force this matter, but he failed. Mary was sent to France to marry the Dauphin, Francis, the eldest son of the king of France, later Francis II. Her mother, Mary of Guise, acted as regent in Scotland.

In 1559, the King of France was killed in a jousting accident, and at only seventeen years of age, Mary became Queen of France. This alarmed Elizabeth, who had only just become Queen herself, as she and her government feared that the French would now try and claim the English throne as well. The French were simply not in a position to do this, however. Mary of Guise's position in Scotland was weak, and she was fighting for survival in a country that was now Protestant. The French could not contemplate attacking England when French rule in the country via Mary and her French mother was so fragile. For this reason, Elizabeth's ministers urged her to aid the Scots against their Catholic government. Elizabeth was reluctant to aid rebels, but in the name of self preservation, agreed to some aid. English involvement was rather disastrous, however, with the English forces suffering humiliating defeat. William Cecil was sent to Scotland to negotiate peace with the Scots, and he played a prominent part in drawing up a treaty with the Scottish government, which guaranteed peace between the two realms. The Treaty of Edinburgh was never ratified by Mary, however, as she refused to relinquish her claim to the English throne that the English requested.

Mary was always seen as a considerable threat to Elizabeth. Many Catholics did not recognize Elizabeth as the true Queen of the realm. They did not recognize the marriage of her mother, Anne Boleyn, to her father, and so believed that she was illegitimate. Illegitimate children were not supposed to become kings or queens. As well as this, Elizabeth was also a Protestant, but Mary a Catholic. For many years Catholics plotted to depose and kill Elizabeth in order to put Mary on her throne. Mary herself did not recognize Elizabeth as the true Queen, and believed that she herself was the rightful Queen of England. Sometimes she even referred to herself as such. The relationship between Mary and Elizabeth was always very difficult. As mutual queens and cousins they tried to keep up a pretense of friendship, but in reality they did not like each other very much. Perhaps because she was nine years older than Mary, Elizabeth always treated Mary with care, and was remarkably tolerant of her less than respectful cousin. In films and novels, Elizabeth is often made out to have been very cruel to Mary, but this is not really true. There is a tendency for people to side with one Queen over the other, but it is better to treat them both as victims of the circumstances in which they found themselves.

Not long after Mary became Queen of France, her husband died. No longer really welcome in France, Mary soon returned to Scotland. Her return was much needed as her mother, Mary of Guise, had died in the June of 1560. In the August of 1561 Mary arrived at the port of Leith, and as only a few people knew of her coming, she was greeted by only a few of her lords. Because she was still refusing to sign the Treaty of Edinburgh, Elizabeth denied her cousin passage through England, and so Mary had bravely sailed the distance from Calais to Leith directly. But the news of her arrival soon reached her people, and they gathered in crowds to welcome the return of their long absent sovereign.

Scotland was very different to France, and Mary found her native country rather disappointing. She had been away most of her life, and had been brought up in the wealth and splendour in France. Scotland lacked France's wealth and glory, and it was also much colder. The country was also Protestant. Mary tried her best to govern Scotland well, and initially was successful. She was tolerant of Protestants, listened to the advise given to her by her various ministers, and kept at peace with her influential Protestant half-brother, James Stewart, later Earl of Murray, illegitimate son of her father, James V.

Now that Mary was a widow, people were beginning to ask who she would marry. As with Elizabeth, her marriage was of immense political importance. It concerned the English government greatly. Elizabeth feared that she would marry a very powerful prince who could help her raise an army to invade England. Elizabeth wanted Mary to marry a man with very little power or influence, so that her Scottish cousin would be less of a threat. Perhaps with this in mind, Elizabeth offered her Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. This was laughed at as he was widely thought to be Elizabeth's lover and a wife-murderer. Mary perceived it as an insult, although it is unlikely that Elizabeth meant it to be. Elizabeth believed that a marriage between them would guarantee the peace of both realms. She believed that Dudley would never conspire against her because of his affection for her, that he would fulfil his ambitions, and Mary would have a husband, and eventually with Elizabeth's blessing, be recognized as the heir to her throne.

This all made sense to Elizabeth, but the other people involved in her plan had different ideas. Dudley was alarmed at the thought of being cast off to Scotland, and did all that he could to prevent the match, even reputedly writing to Mary denying his interest in her hand. Mary at least pretended to be sincere, but did not relish taking a man that her cousin did not find good enough to make her own husband. In an attempt to make Dudley more suitable for a Queen, Elizabeth raised him to the nobility in 1564, making him Earl of Leicester and Baron of Denbigh. Although Elizabeth appeared to be sincere in the negotiations, many doubted that she really meant it, as she and Dudley were so close that she could not bear for him to even leave the court. Whatever Elizabeth's motives may have been, the offer was made with all sincerity.

Had Mary accepted the offer, and Elizabeth agreed to it, Dudley would have found resistance virtually impossible, but to his relief, the negotiations fell through. Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, an English Catholic cousin to Mary who also had a claim to the English crown, was permitted by Elizabeth to travel with his father to Scotland, and Mary, attracted by his person and position, decided to marry him. Elizabeth was outraged. With their joint claim to her throne, Elizabeth feared that they would have substantial support for trying to depose her. It also emerged that Darnley's mother, Lady Lennox, had been involved in secret negotiations to have Mary and Darnley placed upon the English throne. There was very little Elizabeth could do, however, as Mary and Darnley were legally married, and she had to accept him as Prince consort. Elizabeth's consolation was the fact that matters could have been much worse had Mary married a powerful European prince, and Darnley in fact posed very little threat to her safety.



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